Brooklyn Center, Minn., Police Chief Tim Gannon attributed the shooting of 20-year-old black man Daunte Wright to an “accidental discharge” on Monday. The shooting sparked a round of riots and looting on Sunday night and Gannon’s statement is likely to further exacerbate tensions.
“As I watch the video & listen to the officer’s commands, it is my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their taser but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me… that this was an accidental discharge,” Gannon said in a statement.
Gannon explained that the female officer in question shouted, “Taser! Taser!” He also noted that an officer keeps her firearm by her dominant hand and her taser by her less dominant hand. In the heat of the moment, the officer drew her handgun. As Wright fled and got back into the car, she fired at him and said, “Holy (expletive)! I shot him.”
JUST IN: "This appears to me, from what I've viewed and the officer's reaction and distress immediately after, that this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright," police chief says about fatal police shooting. https://t.co/ol6iINQtJp pic.twitter.com/h4YTeoZunF
— ABC News (@ABC) April 12, 2021
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is investigating the case.
Katie Wright, Duante Wright’s mother, said her son called her during the traffic stop. She claimed that police pulled him over because he had air fresheners in his car, but the police say there was a warrant out for his arrest.
“He called me at about 1:40, said he was getting pulled over by the police,” the mother told reporters at the scene in footage captured in a Facebook Live video. “He said they pulled him over because he had air fresheners hanging from his rearview mirror.”
“I said when the police officer comes back to the window, put him on the phone and I will give him the insurance information,” the mother added. “Then I heard the police officer come to the window and say, ‘Put the phone down and get out of the car.’ And Daunte said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘We’ll explain to you when you get out of the car.’”
“All he did was had air fresheners in the car,” the mother said. “He got out of the car and his girlfriend said they shot him. He got back in the car and he drove away and crashed.”
On Sunday, the department claimed cops pulled Wright over for a traffic violation, but “officers determined the driver of the vehicle had an outstanding warrant.”
“At one point as officers were attempting to take the driver into custody, the driver re-entered the vehicle,” the press release explained. “One officer discharged their firearm, striking the driver. The vehicle traveled several blocks before striking another vehicle.”
“Officers in pursuit and responding medical personnel attempted life saving measures, but the person died at the scene,” the release added. “Brooklyn Center officers wear body-worn cameras. We believe both body-worn cameras and dash cameras were activated during this incident.”
Duante Wright’s Facebook page contained photos of the man posing with bundles of cash and holding a gun threateningly at the camera.
After news of Wright’s death spread on Sunday, rioters jumped on police cars, broke into and looted local businesses, and gathered in force to face off with cops in front of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. After the National Guard and the Minnesota State Police arrived, the crowd dispersed.
Gannon’s remarks on Monday may spur another round of riots and looting. Minneapolis, a mere ten miles away from Brooklyn Center, is a powder keg as Derek Chauvin stands trial in the case of George Floyd. Both Minneapolis and Brooklyn Center should brace for coming unrest.